Monday, February 13, 2012

Marketing A New Charitable Endeavor on a Non-existent Budget: The Souderton’s Chestnut Street Playground Renovation

Recently I was asked by a friend, Jen Ruggiero to meet for coffee, she had begun a new fundraising program for a local playground renovation and wanted to discuss ways to market it to the local businesses. From my perspective, being a single girl with no children, I had first thought: “I really could care less about a playground renovation.” It wasn’t going to effect me and isn’t there enough parks in the area? After a few minutes of discussing her goals I couldn’t help but get involved. I soon realized that she was focusing on something much more meaningful than just a playground renovation.
Pour and Play Matting and Safety Swing Seats.
She was building a playground that was handicap accessible, that included braille markings for the blind, safety swings, wide pathways for wheel chair accessibility, cushioned pour and play material to prevent injury, and even a musical play area that is designed to encourage development for autistic children.
Music maker encouraging intellectual growth.
I’d like to pass on a quick scenario: the current location has mulch, imagine for a second a father in a wheel chair who wants to play with his children but can’t wheel over the mulch bed. The 5 foot-wide pathways that will be installed around the play equipment will help families really enjoy time together! Find out more about the progress by by visiting www.chestnutstplayground.org.

I’ve become more involved than I ever imagined. Quickly I’ve learned ways to promote this great cause on a shall I say non-existent budget. I’d like to pass along some quick tips that you can use in your charitable endeavors.

1. Advertising Charitable Events: These days social media sites have made it easier than ever to get the word out - so make sure each event is listed on Facebook, Linkedin, and you’re promoting through Twitter. But we’re looking to generate funds and create registration pages, the best site I’ve found to accomplish this is Eventbrite. Within a few minutes I was able to explain to Jen how to post her events and create tickets. We now have multiple events up and running. Check them out by clicking here. You can event use there Facebook integration to post your events automatically to your page, the site also allows us to send free email invitations and include registration boxes on your website.

2. Sending Email Blasts: MailChimp, a well-know email system offers a free package for email campaigns with under 2,000 subscribers. The package allows you to send 12,000 emails per month at no cost, track your results, and automatically publish your campaigns to your social media sites. When you’re just getting started with your fundraising campaign, this is the best program out there! Like many other email service providers you can pick from multiple templates or design your own - you don’t have to be an experienced designer to get the word out! They even offer tools to help you gain subscribers - check out our sign up page by clicking here.

3. Creating A Web Presence: It can be very costly to establish a web presence, but with recent template assisting websites and free blogging platforms you can make it happen on a budget. If you are a Mac user I recommend trying iWeb. I used the program to design the Chestnut Street Playground Community CARES fundraising site: www.chestnutstplayground.org. Other options for both Mac and PC users include platforms made by Intuit and 1&1 - many of these cost around $10 per month and include your web hosting, email addresses along with other helpful features like SEO integration. If you choose to go the blogging route, I recommend checking out Tumblr, Word Press and Blogger. Because all of these are well known you’ll be able to find tutorials on YouTube to walk you through the process.

Getting involved in community projects gives back ten fold! You’ll learn and network like the pros in no-time. I recommend setting clear personal expectations for yourself, deciding how and when to get involved, and only promising what you know you can deliver.